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Insights for Entrepreneurs

Want a Better Business? Listen to Your Employees.


A good business is only as good as the sum of its working parts.

As a business owner, you want to make sure that everyone in the office stays happy, sane, and relatively balanced. If they get fed up with each other or with their working environment, it will eventually start to effect your company’s morale and even your bottom line.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are often so busy with customer engagement that they sometimes (although never intentionally) forget about employee engagement.

Listening to employees and taking honest feedback goes a long way in making your company a better business. It can raise productivity, lower turnover, and also increase revenue.

Here are some tips for how to offer your ear while leaving the inquisitorial squad behind:

1. Make everyone play nice

As the owner of your business, you’ve got the most on the line in making sure your employees are content with their jobs. Hopefully you’ve managed to cultivate a compassionate, understanding, and motivated environment around yourself and your work.

Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said about mid-level managers who are most employees’ immediate supervisors. JetBlue Chairman and CEO David Neeleman realized this problem and implemented leadership training for all supervisors, which he sees as the most important part of the entire company.

2. Share it all

Your employees don’t want to be kept out of the loop, even if it’s a loop of bad news. These are people who work in your company, so by definition they are insiders and should be treated as such.

3. All for one, one for all

It’s no secret that some jobs are seen as more privileged than others even if they might be indispensable. Even though everyone knows the world can’t function without garbage collectors, how many people are really signing up at the Department of Sanitation?

Your employees are going to lose steam unless you really emphasize the practical value that they bring to the company. If they feel marginalized from within, productivity will begin to slacken. Make sure your employees know that their work has a purpose, and that you hold that in high esteem.

4. Keep the chill pill handy

Business is an aggressive game, no doubt, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to quash every idea that doesn’t come from your own mouth. If you’re used to being the boss, listening to others can be tough. To keep it simple, try and remember to listen twice as much as you speak, since you fortunately have twice as many ears as mouths.

In an interview with the New York Times, Alan Trefler, founder and CEO of Pegasystems, also highlights the importance of a having a culture of thought leadership. Not only should the boss let employees speak their minds, but employees are actually required to do so.

According to Inc.com, a full-scale employee survey is still the most recommended (and probably most common) way of getting feedback from your team. While a suggestion box might seem a bit tacky, setting up a Google form which sends all answers to a private administrator is a bit technologically savvier.

For the more politically spirited, town hall-style meetings are also becoming more popular office space events.

No matter how you listen to your employees, it’s important that you do. Above all else, they’re the most loyal customers you could ever have!

How do you make sure your employees’ voices are heard?